As a psychotherapist, I was finding that I had to move beyond just words with the people I was working with and include what was happening with our body to body communication if I was going to be effective, especially with the highly traumatised clients in the I was working with.
I also had lots of conversations with people of colour training to become counsellors or psychotherapists about how difficult they were finding it to talk about race experiences in their training.
The quality of conversations in training for the helping professions around race has been and continues to be, very poor. There is a lot of communication going on around race, but it is mainly non-verbal. The way people of colour are looked at, the silences, the raised heart rates, the confusion; these were the main communications.
It is not just people’s remembered experiences of race that are being communicated nonverbally; there is also the unconscious playing out of past generations that are being communicated without us really knowing that this is happening.
I wanted to focus on the non-verbal where I believe the real difficulties lie in the race conversation. The non-verbal is also the place we need to focus on for our liberation as well. I believe that if we don’t pay attention to this non-verbal communication of race, we will remain confused about what is really going on, and the pace of change will continue to be glacial.